The Garden is a neo-punk duo from Orange, Calif. that features identical twin brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears. They write songs that are fifteen seconds long, they wear women’s clothing, they speak in a secret lingo, and fashion powerhouse Saint Laurent Paris paid big bucks to fly them out to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week even though neither of them had ever modeled before.
“We walk quickly. We dress quickly. We work quickly. We record quickly,” says Wyatt commenting on both the catwalk and the Garden’s vinyl debut, The Life and Times of a Paperclip.
And he’s right: the album is quick: they tear through sixteen tracks in about eighteen minutes. Driven by just Wyatt’s bass and Fletcher’s drums, each track is sparse, haunting, aggressive, and seems to be written from a perspective only understood by the brothers.
Take, for example, “The Apple.” It begins with a distanced, marching drum beat until a vibrating bass that has so much reverb that it sounds like it was recorded in a cave. Only then does Wyatt call out in an equally distressed and equally curious tone, “It’s an apple walking around!” A menacing riff rushes up the side of the track and then the song ends. Whaaaat?!
“Almost everything has meaning behind it,” says Fletcher (even if only the brothers can understand it). He explains some of the band’s mysterious lyrics through the concept of “Vada Vada.” On the album Wyatt howls out, “Why don’t you go to Vada Vada?!” and then descends into a series of ramblings, only occasionally calling out the title. “Vada Vada is basically like an alternative universe that we made up between us and five friends,” says Wyatt. “Why strive to be a part of a scene when you can create your own? Vada Vada is an alternative reality that we put ourselves into so we don’t have to fit in.”
The gambit is working. The twins, which look even more identical than most identical twins, are a sight to behold. Both are impossibly thin and have impressive angular cheekbones. Their style is one part glam, one part thrift store, one part Stiv Bators, one part ’50s housewife. Fletcher often wears women’s clothing and full on make-up. And it t looks natural on him. “We live in a normal area, and get lots of looks,” Fletcher says. “But, no one is brave enough to take a swing at us.”
In fact, the duo are so striking and so unconcerned with fitting-in that international fashion designers are hiring them to model clothes that can run twenty grand an outfit. “We didn’t even know what Saint Laurent was at all,” says Fletcher. “They flew us to Paris and we basically just showed up, not knowing anything. Even though we were surrounded by modeling professionals and had never been out of the country before, we weren’t really intimated.”
While they don’t finish each other’s sentences, the Shears twins do seem to finish each other thoughts. They constantly continue the ideas of the other, ping ponging explanations back and forth without any cue. “It has to do with the way we were brought up,” Wyatt says. “We have the exact same interest. We do everything exactly the same and have the same friends. It’s almost impossible not to. We rarely ever fight … very rarely.”
“We can basically just walk into the garage and play music. We don’t really have to say anything,” Fletcher says. “When we record, we don’t have to speak. We just know what to do. It’s the quickest way for us. We’re not some delicate artists.”
The Life and Times of a Paperclip is out this week on Burger Records.